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Biochemistry Research International
Volume 2011, Article ID 245090, 23 pages
Review Article

Function of Membrane Rafts in Viral Lifecycles and Host Cellular Response

Department of Biochemistry, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Global COE Program for Innovation in Human Health Sciences, University of Shizuoka, Shizuoka 422-8526, Japan

Received 3 August 2011; Revised 31 August 2011; Accepted 27 September 2011

Academic Editor: Brian P. Head

Copyright © 2011 Tadanobu Takahashi and Takashi Suzuki. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Membrane rafts are small (10–200 nm) sterol- and sphingolipid-enriched domains that compartmentalize cellular processes. Membrane rafts play an important role in viral infection cycles and viral virulence. Viruses are divided into four main classes, enveloped DNA virus, enveloped RNA virus, nonenveloped DNA virus, and nonenveloped RNA virus. General virus infection cycle is also classified into two sections, the early stage (entry process) and the late stage (assembly, budding, and release processes of virus particles). In the viral cycle, membrane rafts act as a scaffold of many cellular signal transductions, which are associated with symptoms caused by viral infections. In this paper, we describe the functions of membrane rafts in viral lifecycles and host cellular response according to each virus classification, each stage of the virus lifecycle, and each virus-induced signal transduction.